How to Fix Jade Plant Leaves Turning Yellow or Brown

The jade plant’s rounded, green leaves and tree-like form make it one of the most popular succulents. These plants are rich in meaning, are also relatively easy to care for, and can even tolerate a bit of neglect. However, jade plants (Crassula ovata) can still experience their fair share of problems, including yellow or brown leaves. Learn about the causes of jade plant leaves turning yellow or brown and the best possible ways to fix this problem.

Common Reasons Jade Plant Leaves Turn Yellow

Jade plant leaves may turn yellow due to environmental conditions like cold temperatures, low light, and overwatering. Yellow leaves can also be caused by pests, nutrient deficiencies, disease, and other stressors. Optimal jade plant care is essential to return these popular plants to full health.


9 Common Causes of Jade Plant Leaves Turning Yellow 


1. Cold Temperatures

Cold Temperatures

All types of jade plants prefer temperatures between 60ºF and 80ºF during the day and 50ºF and 60ºF at night. While the plants may be able to handle temperatures that are a bit below this range, they will struggle if they experience periods of extended or intense cold.

If temperatures dip below 40ºF for even a brief period, the plants may develop discolored leaves. Additionally, extended periods below 50ºF can lead to a lack of vigor and fading leaves.

You should keep your plant away from hot and cold drafts while providing the proper temperatures. This means keeping your plant away from poorly-insulated windows, air conditioning vents, and exterior doors.

2. Improper Soil Mix

Soil mix can have a significant impact on a jade plant’s health and growth cycles. Jade plants need well-draining soil that allows excess water to escape.

A soil mix designed for cacti and succulents is the best choice. You can also make your own soil mix by combining one part peat moss, one part sand, and one part perlite.

3. Overwatering

Overwatering

Jade plants are succulents with moisture-laden leaves. Therefore, they don’t need much water and prefer soil that is on the drier side.

Overwatering is one of beginner plant parents’ most common issues, especially for succulents like jade plants. If the soil stays wet for more than a few days, the roots will become stressed. They may also develop a fungal disease known as root rot.

When the roots become stressed, they cannot properly take up water and nutrients. One sign of this stress is yellowing leaves.

Remember to water your jade plant only when the soil is almost completely dry. Also, ensure you use a well-draining soil mix and a pot with drainage holes.

4. Underwatering

While jade plants don’t need to be watered very often, they still need water! If you forget to water your plant for multiple weeks or a month, the plant may not have access to the moisture it needs.

If your plant doesn’t receive the proper moisture, it will not be able to complete essential processes. Symptoms of this may include dropping or yellowing leaves. You may also notice leaves shriveling up and falling off.

Aim to water your jade plant when the soil is almost completely dry but still contains a bit of moisture. If the soil becomes completely dry, you may need to bottom water your plant for the soil to take up water.

5. A Lack of Light

A Lack of Light

While many houseplants prefer indirect light, jade plants like lots of bright, direct sunlight, these light conditions mimic those of its native habitat of open landscapes in South Africa.

You should aim to provide your plant with at least four hours of bright, direct light each day. However, these plants prefer eight or ten hours of light each day.

If your plant is in a dim area, it is likely not receiving the light it needs to thrive. This can cause fading or yellowing leaves.

For more, see our in-depth guide on where to position jade plants in the home. 

6. Nutrient Deficiency

Jade plants don’t need much fertilizer, but they can develop nutrient deficiencies over time. This is especially true for older plants.

A nitrogen deficiency can cause fading or yellowing leaves. The discoloration will start with older leaves and then progress to younger leaves if it’s not treated.

Deficiencies of iron, manganese, and zinc can also cause yellow leaves.

To avoid nutrient deficiencies, fertilize your jade plant regularly. Choose a well-balanced fertilizer designed for houseplants or succulents and apply it every two months during the spring and summer.

7. Sap-Sucking Pests

Sap-Sucking Pests

Numerous sap-sucking pests can attack jade plants. These little pests include aphids, thrips, spider mites, and mealy bugs. Although these pests are tiny, they can severely damage if left unchecked.

These pests have sharp mouthparts that they use to pierce leaves and suck plant sap. Essentially, they suck out the plant’s energy.

While a few pests won’t cause noticeable damage, large outbreaks can. When large numbers of pests remove sap, they cause small yellow dots known as stippling. Over time, this stippling can lead to yellowing leaves that eventually fall off.

The best way to stop these pests is to regularly inspect your plant and treat outbreaks ASAP. You can remove a few pests with a soapy rag. However, you may need to spray large groups of pests with neem oil or insecticidal soap and prune or cut away any evidence of decay.

8. Stress from Repotting

While repotting your jade plant is sometimes necessary, it is still a stressful event. This holds true even if you follow proper repotting practices.

If you notice your plant’s leaves are turning yellow a day or week after repotting, don’t fret. Your plant likely just needs some time to recover and adjust. During this time, avoid moving your plant and continue providing proper care. Similar stress is often observed from recently propagated jade plants.

9. Over-Fertilizing

Over-Fertilizing

Applying too much fertilizer can lead to a buildup of salts. This will stress your plant and potentially lead to yellow leaves.

Ensure you dilute any fertilizers as necessary and only apply them every two months.


How to Fix Yellow Leaves on Jade Plants

How to Fix Yellow Leaves on Jade Plants

Even if you don’t know why your jade plant has yellow leaves, you attempt to remedy the problem by providing the proper environment and care.

First, start with a pot that has drainage holes and choose a well-draining soil mix. Select a container that is just a bit larger than the plant’s root ball.

When it comes to finding a place to put your plant, look for lots of bright light and consistent temperatures. Keep the temperature between 50ºF and 80ºF, with slightly lower temperatures at night. Aim for low to moderate humidity.

As far as watering goes, wait until the soil is almost completely dry before watering again. An excellent way to do this is to feel the weight of the pot when wet and again when dry. You can also feel the top three inches of soil and water when they are dry.

To provide your jade plant with the nutrients it needs, apply a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Dilute the fertilizer as instructions suggest, and apply it every two months in the spring and summer.


Yellowing Jade Plant Leaves FAQs:


The exact fix will depend on the cause of yellow leaves. However, providing the proper environment and care will help resolve the issue.

Once jade leaves turn yellow or brown, they are unlikely to change back to green. However, new green leaves can continue to emerge.

Jade plants like bright light, so direct light is unlikely to cause leaf discoloration.

Jade plants aren’t super picky about water type, but they may become stressed by water with excessive chemicals or very hard water.

Yes, excess fertilizer can lead to plant stress and therefore discolored leaves. Only apply fertilizer in the recommended doses.


The Final Word

Once you determine the cause of yellow or brown jade leaves, you can begin to work to remedy the problem. With the proper care and some patience, your plant should return to a healthy green.

If you’re looking for your next jade plant to add to your collection, see our in-depth guide to the best plant shops delivering jade plants nationwide.


Briana Yablonski
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Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

Author

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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